February 15, 2014
Camp Suwannee at Advent Christian Village recently became a “men only” zone. One hundred fifty men took the grounds by storm Jan. 16–19, transforming Rumph Pavilion into a military training zone and taking advantage of the Suwannee’s natural surroundings to its manliest extent.
For the second year in a row, the Florida Band of Brothers Boot Camp was held at Camp Suwannee. Boot Camps of this kind take place in several U.S. and Canadian locations. This location sees most of its participants traveling from Atlanta and south Florida. The group likes meeting at the Village because it’s a good place to get away from home, “unplug,” and stay in cabins.
What is a Band of Brothers Boot Camp? Simply put: It’s an intensive, cooperative and fun weekend where men learn it’s OK to be men. The first Boot Camp was hosted at Sharpe Ridge in California in 2009 by Mike Minter, an insurance salesman and financial planner with Primerica. Minter used the video series based on John Eldredge’s book Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul as the basis for the weekend.
Eldredge explains that men need to be adventurous and daring, but still have a deep relationship with the Lord. Eldredge quotes Joshua 1:6–7, 9: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
It is upon these ideals that Eldredge introduced an eight-part video series to be used by men’s groups with the following topics: the heart of a man, the poser, the wound, healing the wound, a battle to fight, an adventure to live, a beauty to rescue, and a band of brothers. Much of each Band of Brothers Boot Camp centers around the video series, but Guy Shashaty, one of the Florida Boot Camp leaders, says the more powerful part is when those leaders known as “responders” speak.
After each part of the video series is shown, one or more responders testify to how they can relate to the video: how they struggled and found resolution or how they are currently struggling and working on a solution. These personal stories help the other attendees realize they aren’t alone in their feelings and experiences. “The true purpose of the Boot Camp,” explains Shashaty, “is to help men realize who they were created to be and to give them permission to be who they are.”
Band of Brothers Boot Camp is available to any man at least 18 years old. Visit their website at www.bofbbootcamp.com for more information.